Monday marked the 30th anniversary since my Dad passed away. To think when he died mobile phones, the internet etc. were all sci fi. The cold war was still largely in place with iron curtain still to be raised. I was only 22 so now I’ve lived by far the majority of my life without my Dad. He missed my marriage the summer the following year, he never stepped foot in either of the houses my wife and I have owned and never got to meet my kids. I dread to think what he’d have made of my dissent into alcoholism and sojourn in rehab – I doubt he’d have been impressed. He was a man who lived the the rules and who accepted his place in the world graciously.
I realised right early on in my recovery, in rehab in fact, that my Dad was a major force in my life. I’d spent a lot of energy trying to climb the greasy pole of success to prove to him that I was a success. My Dad was a man who worked with his hands. He was a shipwright in the local dockyard all his working life from age 15 until he was given early retirement a year before his death as the government trimmed back on defence spending. 42 years he worked there. He was very good at his job and with tools he could make anything. I still have the castle he made for me when I was about 8 – my son played with it when he was young. It is a master piece of carpentry. I never inherited that skill I’m a bit hamfisted when it comes to that sort of stuff. My talents have laid in logic and computers and other non-manual stuff. So part of the issue was I have always felt like I never matched up to my Dad as it wouldn’t have been “proper work” in his eyes.
The other day the loft hatch fell down. It’d been up 20 odd years but somehow one night flipped open bent back on the hinges, cracked the wood around them and fell off. So I fitted it back on, got some new hinges and put on 3 not the 2 we’d previously had and I’ve beefed up the catch mechanism with an spare old connector block I had in one of my “jars of old tut” (Mrs F’s phrase) that I keep “just in case” – this was “just in case”…
My son and his girlfriend were there that weekend. My son saying to his girlfriend that my impressive set of tools were largely inherited from my Dad – true. Most were his dockyard tool and my tool chest is the one he made in the 1940s as an apprentice. The mallet I used, the chisel, the screwdriver, the drill … all Dad’s. May not have been to the quality level that Dad would have done but a job well done, with Dad’s tools still in my care 30 years later and still give me a twinge when I use them they bring the memories of him back every time.